erik lundegaard

Monday August 15, 2016

Movie Review: Suicide Squad (2016)


The poster below is a hot pastel mess. Metaphor?

Here’s what I kept thinking throughout “Suicide Squad”: Some men aren’t looking for anything logical ... some men just want to watch the world burn.

The men in question are writer-writer David Ayer (normally good: “The Fury,” “End of Watch”), Warner Bros.’ CEO Kevin Tsujihara (lambasted in an open letter here), and Zack Snyder, the arrested adolescent behind the DC extended universe. Also anyone who’s a fan of this shit.

Suicide Squad reviewIt’s as if the filmmakers took chunks of story and lined them up without concern for what came before or after, and without the necessary connective tissue. Marvel gives us continuity between movies but DC can’t manage it between scenes.

We also keep getting the reason for the thing after the thing. What’s keeping the Suicide Squad in line? I guess they’ve got explosive implants in their necks and their handler, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman, tiresome), can blow them up with a phone app, but it takes a while for the filmmakers to tell us (and the Squad) this. And even so, what’s to prevent the Squad, career criminals all, from destroying the phone and/or Flag? No answer on that one. I assume it’s because Flag’s boss, hard-ass government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), is watching via whatever. Or maybe Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a onna bugeisha warrior, whose husband’s soul is trapped in her vengeful sword (yes), is there to keep them in line. But then why does she show up late on the airport tarmac? And why does she hang out with the supervillains in the abandoned hotel bar? And can’t Deadshot (Will Smith) just shoot her anyway? Guns > swords. Cf., “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Pull back and the movie gets way stupider.

OK, so Waller puts together this team of supercriminals in case the next metahuman (Superman, temporarily dead in “BvS”) isn’t such a boy scout. Most people think it’s a crazy idea but she manages to convince everyone, or at least one guy. A general, I think. She gets him top secret Iranian files, which have nothing to do with metahumans (just the usual sad humans), but he’s all-in now, and that’s all the go-ahead she apparently needs.

That’s not the way stupider part, by the way. Here’s the way stupider part. The team she assembles? Suicide Squad? A malicious Superman could take them out in a second. It wouldn’t even be a battle. So their whole raison d’été is meaningless. No one bothers to mention any of this.

And the reason they’re finally called to action in this movie? One of their number, Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a 6,000-year-old witch trapped in the body of a beautiful archeologist, goes rogue, teams with her brother, and turns Midway City into a swirling, black-magical chaos of death (funnel cloud into the sky, lightning, etc.). So Waller actually creates the crisis for her team to fix. And not on purpose, per 9/11 truthers, but by accident. No one in the movie mentions this, either.

Wait, someone does mention it. In a mid-credits scene between Waller and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), we get the following exchange:

Waller: People are asking questions about Midway City. The kind of people that can get answers, and if they get those answers my head will be on a pike.
Bruce Wayne: Consider yourself under my protection. If you deliver.

Did you get that? Waller is responsible for the death of tens of thousands of innocent people and Bruce Wayne helps her cover it up? Batman??? The hell??? Plus the files he wants that she has—details of metahumans like the Flash and Aquaman—give lie to the whole point of the movie. If she has this intel, why doesn’t she put together a team of superheroes as Bruce Wayne is doing, rather than going the supervillain route?

GAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! It’s all so stupid it makes my head hurt.

And I didn’t even mention the route they take into Midway City.

Enchantress and her brother are wreaking havoc of some kind, right? So the S.S. (unfortunate initials, btw) chopper in, the chopper gets shot down, then they battle these demon-soldiers that have seemingly come from nowhere. I mean, I figured Enchantress created them, and we find out later that she did—from civilians—but at this point our team doesn’t even know it’s fighting Enchantress. It probably would’ve made more dramatic sense if we were in the dark with the Squad, and then when the demon-soldiers arrived we would’ve thought, with them, “Oh, this is the threat”; and then, with them, we would’ve discovered, “Oh no, it’s Enchantress!” Instead, we just wait for them to get up-to-speed. Which is no fun at all.

But that’s not the point I wanted to make. Here’s the point I wanted to make: Why aren’t they sent toward the Enchantress? Why are they sent toward Waller?

Isn’t Waller in charge? And if you’re arresting her, as I think Flag is, why allow her to kill her own subordinates, who “know too much”? And isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that when you take her to the rooftop “for extraction,” at that very moment the Joker (Jared Leto, awful in a good role) arrives in a helicopter to get his gal pal, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, good in an awful role)? And why force us through the whole “Will Deadshot kill Harley before she boards the Joker’s copter” question? We know he won’t. He aims... and aims... and aims... There’s some subterfuge but we know. Seriously, Warner Bros., it was painful to watch.

I haven’t even mentioned the overt misogyny, the love of violence, the sad love of hard-ass cool. It's so awful it makes you want to reboot western civilization.

Undignified in August
“Suicide Squad” is supposed to be DC’s answer to Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”—an early August release in which a team of alliterative criminals, led by a charismatic ne’er-do-well, saves the day to a soundtrack of kick-ass songs—but it’s so not.

“Guardians” found its charismatic lead in the bargain bin of TV sitcoms; “Suicide” bought the talents of the most established charismatic leading man of the 21st century ... whose charisma days are on the wane. “Guardians” found its soundtrack in the bargain bin of forgotten ’70s songs, and actually tied them to the storyline; “Suicide” bought the most established soundtrack songs and pasted them on: “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Spirit in the Sky,” “Super Freak,” “The House of the Rising Sun.”

“Guardians” was funny, “Suicide,” not. “Guardians” was good. “Suicide” is the second-worst movie I’ve seen this year—after “Batman v Superman." 

One of the first things we see in the movie is the DC Entertainment logo in those crazy Harley Quinn pastels; then the logo flickers and go out. Metaphor? 

Posted at 07:26 AM on Monday August 15, 2016 in category Movie Reviews - 2016  
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